On January 30, the Trademark Law and Industrial Design Law were passed into legislation by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.
However, both laws provide that they will be effective only after a notification is issued by the President of Myanmar. “As such, while both are now statutes, their effect and implementation will continue to be deferred to a later date. This is the same approach adopted with other laws, such as the Companies Law and the Competition Law,” according to law firm Kelvin Chia Yangon in a February 1 note.
So far, there has been no indication on when the President’s notification on the effective date of the Trademark Law or the Industrial Design Law will be issue. According to the law firm, it is likely that this will happen only after the implementing mechanisms, such as the trademark registry, have been properly established.
Nevertheless, the move is a positive one for businesses in Myanmar, which have long relied on outdated colonial-era laws to protect their intellectual property rights.
Since 2015, during the previous administration, the government has been trying to enact regulations covering intellectual property rights, including a trademark law, industrial design law, copy right law and patents law.While the trademark law and industrial design law have been enacted, the draft copy right law and patents law are still being discussed in the Amotha Hluttaw.
The Trademark Law implements the first-to-file system from the previous first-to-use system. “This means that trademark holders who registered under the first-to-use system will need to re-register their marks under the current first-to-file system,” Kelvin Chia Yangon said.
U Aung Thein, the vice chair of Myanmar Intellectual Property Proprietors’ Association, said businesses are already prepared for the additional registration. “Local businesses are prepared to re-register their brands under the new law, which is an important step in implementing IP rights,” he said.
U Aung Thein added that the new legislation is well-accepted by local businesses as it has been drafted based on international standards.
Once the laws are enacted, a regulatory body for IP rights will be set up to oversee IP-related issues, Daw Moe Moe Thwe, deputy director general of the Intellectual Property Department under the Ministry of Education, told The Myanmar Times last October.
The department is working to train civil servants regarding IP matters and raise public awareness over the importance if IP protection.
IP laws are important for local and foreign businesses and are expected to encourage more investments. There are currently 60,000 registered trademarks in Myanmar, according to the Intellectual Property Proprietors’ Association.